If you were around for the 2017 initial coin offering (ICO) boom, you’ll remember an era of “lambos”, “moonshots”, and “100X returns”. If this jargon makes little sense to you, the ICO was a wildly popular fundraising tool used by blockchain companies, though that popularity has waned significantly in 2019.
The height of this trend was in mid-to-late 2017. Billions of dollars were raised by hundreds of blockchain startups. Unlike the “initial public offering” (the fundraising model used by conventional corporations first offering their stock to the marketplace), ICOs are typically organized without any regulatory oversight.
This allowed new (and often unprepared) companies to raise enormous sums while circumventing regulated fundraising best practices. The coins and tokens that investors received often gained value quickly when traded in cryptocurrency exchanges. Returns of 10X an initial investment (or more) were not uncommon.
Everyone, it seemed, was making money. This motivated thousands of…